Friday, December 14, 2018

Arco 2017

Again it's been a while since I've put anything on the blog due to other commitments and stuff so I'll start by going back to Arco 2017 and some of the art that interested me. 

Above is a piece by the South African artist Kendall Geers who came from a working class Afrikaan backround and grew up during apartheid. At fifteen he got involved in the anti -  apartied movement. Later he publicily refused to serve in the South AfricanDefence Force which lead to his exile from Africa not returning until the release of Mandela in 1990.

He rejected everything that his family and society stood for. He changed his name and his date of birth to May 1968 which was the birth of the civil rights movement.It´s struck me straight away even though I knew nothing about the artist at the time. Simple but complex design or assemblage, like something from the hunger games. Maybe because in Spain also in the past years there has been so many demonstrations that the sight of a truncheon is something I´m immediately drawn to or am familiar with. 

Los Carpinteros - KOW - Madrid - Havana

This was probably the first piece in the show that really drew my attention painted in such exactitude but very fresh. I do love a good technical drawing and also the scale is impressive. 

Los Carpinteros established themselves in the 1990s as a collective of two and later three artists Marco Castillo Valdes , Dagoberto Rodríguez Sanchez and Alex Jesús Arrechea Zambrano although with Spanish names it looks like a gang. 

Talking a name like the carpenters associates with a more artisan approach such as is shown in the fine painting above and also in the subject matter. A light spatial aerial structure in wood beautifully painted in a delicate medium. And a symbolic image of the 20th century. In addition to such wonderful sculptures ( I am sure the image above was made by the group before being painted ) they also produce videos where they present the twerks in a society in which everyone is apparently equal and void of class divide.

The ´carpenters` in English reflect on the social transformations taking place in Cuba by probing the relationship between form and function through wit and craftsmanship. In addition to beautifully realised sculptures, and drawings the group also produce video where they present the twerks in a society where everyone is apparently equal and is void of class divide.

Some works I liked for the simple freshness of idea and not essentially their aesthetic. Plastic is no doubt the cancer of out times and hopefully it´s omnipresence will soon be a thing of the past but it´s definitely of our age and it´s appearance even in a negative like this is so familiar that in a strange way it´s comforting. 

An then something like this , so pure and artisan.

These pieces of relief sculpture are carved from compressed styrofoam. I thought this could be a cool idea for resin pieces in the future using different pigments and making a mold in silicone first.

Angela De La Cruze

It´s not the first time this idea of pouring the pure form of paint into the present has been done but I felt in this case there was a very pure and sculptural element to the work. Reminiscent of seventy home interiors or something. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recent additions in Tabacalera

I have noticed that the style of graffitti in La tabacalera has changed or better has modified. The styles seem more brash and there is just a little more drawing  or illustration elements. Lile the work of ALANIZ an Argentinian artist based in Berlin that´s the painting of the guy on the phone below the tree taken from a photo of the Argentinian president during the military coup.

The soltano (Basement) area of the building which is a catacomb of passageways with spaces on each side  which would have been storage areas for tobacco in the past has been recently upgraded a bit for fire and safety reasons. This has lead to a little renaissance of urban art and music in the establishment!

La Tabacalera has become a center point for urban art now in the city of Madrid and is gaining more and more recognition as the most successful ´autogestionada´ in Spain. In the recent regional elections in which  ´Ahora Madrid´  a new political party knocked the PP from in Mayorship which it had held for almost thirty years the party had held it´s meetings before in the center.The use of this free public amenity is allowing people to grow independantly from ground level ,very slowly though.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Arco 2015

This yearat at Arco I went with an artist friend Lucia who has gone also for the last five years or so and both of us came away impressed at what we say. Although sadly every year there is less sulpture the tactile and hands work was more present . Normally there is a huge amount of print and photography which bores me for the greater part.

It is true that art fairs in general cater in the wham bam factor which only excites when either its not expected or when on closer inspection your find craftsmanship and in that a quiter sense of time and contemplation.

This year I was looking more specifically for works that I could take inspiration from myself and that I could use to help me steer my own work in a different direction.Works that I found similarities to my work in the materials etc.

The piece that caught my attention was this piece by Daniel Verbis  - La metamorfosis 2014 

Its a pity that my camera is so crap but next year I will go with something better than just my phone.It may look easy to do (which I really like about it also) , but this is not easy and the artist has managed to keep a sense of immediacy and freshness as if at one point a magnet had had pulled all the pieces together, very pop!!

I thought this piece was really clever and again had a just made sense to it, like somebody had just found it, a readymade in cement,


Sunday, September 21, 2014

´The Arrival´- Fashion Art EU 2014 - To be exhibited at the European Parliement from 17/11/2014 - 15/05/201

Seamus Heaney – Irish poet 1939 – 2013

Poem – The Tollund Man (1973) and the poets reflections.

After being presented with this commission by The Fashion Art Institute Madrid and taking into
consideration that it will be exhibited in the European Parliament I felt it should reflect the work of
the Irish poet Seamus Heaney who passed away last year.

The exhibition will comprise of  twenty eight artist, one from each member state and the work should reflect in some way the culture of that country and it´s relation to the EEC.

- Commissioned by The Fashion Art Institute Madrid.

I took the poem ´The Tullond Man¨ from 1973, the same year that Ireland joined the EEC.
Leading from this poem I came across a talk that the poet gave in 1996 at Silkborg Museaum
where he described his childhood memories of the bog and how he remembered a neighbor
digging up an Irish Elk ‘which are things that are a great astonishment to a child’.

This struck me as something very poignant to both Ireland and Heaney himself. After reading a touching reflection on Seamus Heaney by the poet Theo Dorgan I felt my inspiration reinforced.

Dorgan writes art of Heaney is ¨ the art of retrieving a moment and holding it to the light of attention, turning it in the hand until it had revealed not just its many facets but deep truths breathing quiet and patient at the heart of the thing* ¨.

Theo Dorgan continues ¨ the art Heaney practiced, to be sure, was the art of poetry, but the
mother and medium of his art was memory¨.

What I became most aware of when reading Heaneys poems was of myself as an Irishman living in Spain. Heaney´s poems are internationally reputed but they are also quintessentially Irish.

While working on this project I came across a book I bought a number of years ago called ´The
arrival’ by Shaun Tan a second generation Asian immigrant of Australian citizenship. It portrays
the story of an immigrant and other short stories of other immigrants purely in pictorial form.

It’s a beautiful book and from this I took the image of the origami bird to represent the immigrant.The birds are painted onto the bottom part of the dress and connected to some of  the branches or roots on the top part of the dress.

I had not intended to actually write the verses of  ´The Tullond Man´ onto the dress but as I began to paint on the birds and attach the branches it just seemed to make sense.

I feel that the text along with the branches makes the piece more tactile and more curious.

* Theo Dorgan – The Royal Hibernian Academy Annual show catalogue 2014.

I would like to give a very special thank you to 
two very good friends of mine Oscar Barrios and Juan Porres who collaborated with me on creating a video to document the making of the commission at La Tabacalera in Madrid.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Works at Colegio Amoros

For the past year I have been working at Colegio Amoros in the South of Madrid. This is a marianista college in the third year of an English Bilingual programme.

The school also teaches music, theatre and art through English and began to teach some workshops with the first of primary kids ( 6 - 7 years). With the decorations for ´Dive into the jungle ´ I cut out the props of a jungle scene and just let them go for it with several different classes applying numerous layers which gave a great intensity to the poster paint.

These classes can be mayhem but always enjoyable and I think this is a golden age with kids. They are so enthusiastic about everything but they are just getting old enough to work together and plan things a little bit. Later in the school year I had the opportunity to work again work the kids in the first of primary on a second project where I was able to use works that I had made the previous year in La Tabacalera (Madrid).

In August 2013 I had made an installation of five fullsize origami horses within a setting of a forest in part relating to a poem by Robert Forst and in other parts to personal experiences. The process of making the horses and the setting and the desired result was to be a physical one in a visual sense. I envisioned this installation in a large window front to viewed from the streetin an ambient setting with the aid of good lighting. But like any type of origami the process was very physical and with the kids we began a series of simple origami classes although this proved difficult because they were a little young.I was thinking on the theme of horses and how the native american Indians would print their hands onto their horses as decoration and thought this could be a away where the students could becaome part of the project a take ownership of the horses to a degree. This worked out much better.

Only three of the horses were used in  this way and after the workshops the horses were arranged in an open area in the grounds of the school in preparation for the National meeting of the Marianistas of Spain ( Jornadas de profesores marianistas de primaria de España)  which was held in Amoros this year on the 26 & 27th of June. With the help of the other Auxiliar teachers and Alejandra the head of the English department we set up the horses on a very hot afternoon.

Possibly in the future drawings of the installation may be used to develop a ´proyecto ayuda ` event to raise money for Marianista colleges in the South of Spain which are in need of financial assistance. These ´help projects´ are run at different times during the year in every marianista  College , it might be a sports event, or cooking or selling badges on St Patricks day or whatever to generate some needed income for distressed schools.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

OCHO - cuestiones espacialmente extraordinarias - Tabacalera

Eight extraodinary spatial questions was the recent exhibition that took place in Tabacalera Art promotion space in the Lavapies district of Madrid.

Eight artists ( 7 Spainish and one Mexican ) whose work began to be known at the end of the 1990´s and is in now full development were selected to specifically develop a body of work that would shown in this unique space which was up until  recently the largest and oldest tobacco company in the Latin world. This was no easy task if you have viewed the enormity of these rooms.

But on the other hand for me still the atmosphere of these spaces even empty are filled with a both recent deep and distant past like the lingering smell of tobacco leaves you sense sometimes you hear the voices of the three thousand female workers that filled these post imperial rooms.

The eight artists - Jacobo Castellano, Miren Doiz , Nuria Fuster, Fernanado Garcia, Hisae Ikenaga (Mex) , Jaime de la Jara , Guillermo Mora and Miguel Angel Tornero and the exhibition begins in a specific space The Tabacalera building. A building which has a history tied to a particular economy and a political and social context.

¨Today this building is a mixed space where institutional management cohabitates withe the self management of various independantly organized Madrid groups¨. *

* http:/

I enjoyed the show overall in small parts of certain artists work,   for example the drawings and  video of the puffing smoke by Jaime de la Jara very atmospheric a thought provoking like something in the distance moving towards you but never seems to get any closer.

But the work in particular of  Jacobo Castellano ( Signs and delimited fields ) and Farnando Garcia ( homage to Luis Candelas) used the medium of the spaces most impressivly.

Described in a review of his work as an adventure towards failure ( which it never is) he likes to behave as a Beckett- like character locked up with only one toy - the object he transformes. Confused in the process, destroying it - into something else - something incredible and forcing us to open our minds wide in order to understan what he wants to tell us.

´Ghosts that autobiographically inhabit the artist`s dreams are awakened in his work and take on life in order to go out into the world, transformed as everyday objects that are repeated in his work: toothpicks and shoes become important in representing those spirits , atavistic memories from his childhood.

These cut shoes of Jacobos, Bunuel - like in appearence, what are they ? Closed a both ends tragically comic, their use possibly at an end in this life and in them ley the sleep of the dead ?

The preface to Castellano´s  installation pays tribute to the movie theatre his grandfather ran in his hometown. It is a ticket booth we have to pass through in order to enter this scenic field from his childhood. The artist also insists on searching for a new story in the objects past : a fishermans pocketshrine shrunk to miniscule in the installation takes on a strange strength in it´s diminitive scale.

Toothpicks, shoes , everyday things mixed with a microscopic portable alter with a tiny virgin inside that the fishermen carry as protection. The pagan is camouflaged in a religious symbol.

The work of the second artist Fernando Garcia although usually a painter in this show the focus was on light but through sculpture. The theatrical keys to understanding his work for Tababcalera: Convent interior / Castle lighting / Spanish meson (tavern) / Luis Candelas light being the protagonist of each piece.

In the origin of his work we see the constant revision of historical figures used  as totems of inspiration such as the legend of Madrid Luis Candelas born in the district of Lavapies in 1804 and executed in 1837. He had studied as a book seller for a period  but opted for the life of a thief in order to manitain a certain standard of life of which he had become accustomed.

Garcia works as an artisan challenging the capitalist system of production and preferring precious time over economic output in his work. The physical work that he has put into both the research into rescuing what is almost forgotten Spanish folklore and binding these chandeliers from broken glass, pebbles, wood and wire which in the hands of the artist are transformed into jewels.


The old rope making shops that still survive in parts of Madrid and the typical taverns that have been around forever are the focus point for Garcias work.In a wider and more spiritual search the turns his attention to convents and castles where imprints of progress and the modern world are less evident are artisanal customs can still be seen.

His art pieces are impossible to define in the institutionalized world of art, new rural , new land art, post Vallecas school, call it what you want because he is unaffected and will continue on his path of Castilian austerity.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Arco 2014 Madrid

I had a fleeting visit to the Arco 2014 art fair due to the fact that it took place at the same time as Artmadrid 2014 and I had to spent the majority of time there. It´s such an enormous fair that I decided I would concentrate on a theme in the work that I saw instead of trying to get everything in. So I took texture and light as subjects in the works I saw. The first intriguing piece was at the Stefan Ropke gallery which was essentially a large piece of crumbled paper but had a lovely soft tissue texture and the second piece was this portrait of a head in boxes not very original maybe but really well painted, loose and watery texture mmm.

Then there were pieces where I really liked the idea, for example the eight ball was classic and with an excellent finish from the Ines Barrenechea gallery (Madrid)

This installation or collection of paintings from Luis Coquenao gave the impression of a type of lunar landscapes but on closer inspection was layer watery texture applied in strokes to the paper, very immediate and it still looked wet.

These works for the light and the fresh and precise finish. The second piece by David Magan played with the layering of  colors beautifully.

Sandra Vasquez de la Horra´s work I had seen before in Paris last July when I was thee with Bea for the who´s next fashion fair. It´s fantastic stuff ,slightly unnerving with a nieve style which makes the sexuality in the drawings even more unsettling. But great combination of textures like the red brick woman with the baby.

This photograph doesn´t do it justice but the circular light piece was great and so simple also the spools of thread was clever, simple and so well executed very cool neat little piece.

 Again  in this work by Mimma Russo for the texture and the simplicity I guess and  the color of the eggs has that old photograph look or almost like it´s a photocopy it was in fact a wall mounted sculpture.

Some of the pieces were so clever. After working for a few years hanging shows in galleries I really could appreciate this piece by Robert Lazzarini.


This was one of my favorite pieces in the whole show, softly  painted textures called  Las lunas oscuras noche 2013 -( The dark moons nights )